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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Experts tasked on harnessing ICT

Nigerian-born winner of the 1989 Gordon Bell Prize, the Nobel Prize of supercomputing, Dr. Philip Emeagwali has tasked African Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) experts in diaspora to ensure that the continent harnesses technology for the benefit of mankind.

Delivering a keynote address entitled: Technology the root of all evil, to the conference of African Diaspora held in Tucson, Arizona, recently, Emeagwali decried that technology in the hands of others have been used to exploit Africa for centuries.

Now, he said, is the time for Africa to wake up and take its rightful place by ensuring that technology is used for the good of all people.

“But now it’s time for Africa to grasp technology and finally embrace the modern age’s clay of wisdom and advancement,” he said.
Emeagwali, also said, that Africa has the chance be an example for other continents
of the world to emulate in terms of technology usage.

“Africa has the chance to show the world how technology can be used for good, not evil. And the people of Africa can use today’s technology, not to mimic their own exploitation, but to right the wrongs of the past and empower themselves with the same tool that has been used to oppress them in the past,” he asserted, maintaining that African continent could actually provide a shining example for the world in using technology for its own upliftment and the benefit of mankind.

He lamented that some of the ICT professionals in Diaspora, especially from Africa are teaming up to exploit the continent and cited an electronic mail (e-mail) he received about a year ago, which read: “About a year ago, I hired a developer in Africa to do my job. I am paying him $12,000 a year to do my job, for which I am paid $67,000 a year,” the sender wrote. “He’s happy to have the work and I’m happy that I have to work only 90 minutes a day. Now I’m considering getting a second job and doing the same thing.”

This kind of exploit, Emeagwali said, should not be allowed to continue let alone being perpetuated by African experts in Diaspora.

He enjoined Africans to take cognizance of Internet, because it is “our modern-day compass,” stressing that as the continent and its people warm up for the great journey into the cyberspace of the future with its technological promise, which he described as the clay of wisdom, there is a need to understand the strategic value and potential of this all-important tool.

“Our image of the future inspires the present and the present serves to create the future,” he said.

As said by him, Africa’s lack of substantial technological knowledge of the Internet and its potential may lead to an assault or manipulation in unexpected ways, just as it was devastated generations ago for the lack of a simple compass, a technological development of the innocent compass, invented in China for religious divination 2,000years ago; facilitated the ravaging of Africa.

“We didn’t recognize the power of the compass then; the danger is that we don’t recognize the power of technology today,” he decried.

Pointing out that while Africa merely contemplates the future, the West, the quickest off the mark to wield technology’s weapons, actually makes the future.


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